So there I was, with a head full of ideas and the commitment to get started leaving my legacy. And a bunch of blank pages. Right away I remembered something I had learned along the way: working on a project every day is one of the best ways to get it done. Making the time for it shows both you and the Universe that you are serious enough to make that time; with an attitude to go with that strict schedule, you can really get started and keep going. In fact, you can do just about anything. It will, of course, take some time; that’s why we schedule for it.
I know there are endless reasons not to do this, no matter the life you lead. Special circumstances are actually quite common, and we’ve all got more pressing things to do than follow our dreams. I’ve made my share of excuses; it’s why I sat on my first book for over a decade before getting published, and why I sat on the next three for too long after that. There’s always someone or something to blame when a writer doesn’t take the time to write. When we finally do take that time, the responsibility has finally found its way home; that’s when it’s time to get deliberate.
One hour a day is an arbitrary number; five minutes a day is better than none, and four hours kicks one right in the butt. But we’ll start where I did, with one hour a day. I had it already, at this point in my life. The time I wasn’t spending on keeping my bachelor existence on track was currently being divided between reading, watching television, writing in journals and dating. Any one of those things could be cut out, or cut down. So I gave up reading. I wanted my voice to be my own throughout this trilogy, and didn’t want any more influence from other authors until it was complete.
Well, that was easy. An hour a day, and the pages started to fill up. I was writing slow, even in longhand, and seldom got through more than three pages a day. It began to get frustrating, watching my mind leap so far ahead in the story, so I cut out television. That bumped me up to at least five pages a day, sometimes closer to eight; it still wasn’t enough. So I cut out writing in my journals. I was getting great therapy from writing the book; I didn’t even miss the other stuff. I was writing as many as ten pages a day, too!
Then I cut out dating, and had my first weekend day where I wrote over twenty pages. I found the company of my book immensely more satisfying than anyone I was meeting at the time, and it kept getting bigger for all the time spent. My driving goal was to finish it, and I finally did. And then came that eternal question: ‘Now what?’
This led to me once again reevaluating my entire existence, an exercise I find is helpful to undertake regularly. I realized that there was more work to do if I really wanted to keep this up. I had just run a sprint, using up all the fuel in my tank to barely get across the finish line and write ‘The End’. But the end wasn’t the end here; it was leading on to book two, and then to book three. Even that wasn’t the end; the more I wrote, the more stories came to knock on my mental door. They couldn’t all be exhausting sprints; I had to learn to run the metaphorical marathon.
I had answered one question: ‘Is making your dream come true enough motivation to work on it every day?’ Yep, it sure was. Now the next question came up: ‘Is making your dream come true enough motivation to clean up your life and your schedule?’ Hmmm, I had to think about that. Cleaning up would mean going back and making some things right, so I wouldn’t wake up thinking about them anymore. Yeah, I could do that. I can eat better and exercise and get good sleep, too; I will be running that metaphorical marathon, after all. I can meditate and read and continue to work on both myself and my stories. Most of this I can do myself, and probably should anyway. But a good honest look at things isn’t always perfect or pleasant; there were things missing in my life that I couldn’t provide for myself, and my personal hierarchy of needs was not unfamiliar to me.
So I got to work on what I could get to work on. I cleaned up the house and the yard, and started looking at what thoughts I woke up to in the morning. The gratitude thoughts were welcome, and encouraging; the other ones needed to be dealt with, each in their own way.
I made peace with some people, and many parts of myself. I got on a good healthy routine, and got a pretty good start on the second book in the trilogy. So many things were falling into place, but I was keenly aware of what was still missing. With that in mind, I set out to clean up the one mess that I had felt bad about as soon as I had created it. Over the years, I had gone back to that place to remind myself that I could screw up pretty royally, to dwell in the guilt in an attempt from repeating that kind of mistake. Now it was time to see if I could make it right, or at least extend my most sincere apologies. So that’s what I did.
If I had anticipated what would happen next, I would have seen my heartfelt message as a desperate ‘Hail Mary’. I didn’t, though; I just knew that I had to say some things that should have been said a long time ago. My life changed for it, and in a variety of wonderful ways; but that’s a story for next week. The point of this is that I had to dig deep, figure out what I needed and do what had to be done to get it. Once again, the Universe helped out a lot…but I had to define what I wanted before it would give it to me. I’ll tell you about that, next week. At some point we’ll go more into depth on customizing your hierarchy of needs to best suit your temperament; your list may be different than mine, but it still exists. Knowing what’s important to you can mean the difference between writing from an unsatisfied narrow perspective and exploring the broad endless nature of happiness. We can’t skip over that, can we?
Thanks for reading!